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Anything but child’s play

Anything but child’s play

The video games industry is a bit of a monster, but local developers realize there is still huge growth potential in the Arabic market, as news this week demonstrates.


December 6, 2010 1:06 by

Tahadi is part of the Jabbar Internet Group, created as a byproduct of the Yahoo Maktoob deal. The company targets millions of Arabic users in the region, localizing (“Arabizing”) games. They provide games for free, relying on branding and advertising for income.

Last month, the strength of demand for games in the region (in English as well as Arabic) was evident again when the new Call of Duty title launched in Dubai. Hundreds of fans queued at Oasis Mall to get the latest version of the game. “This game is amazing,” said one fan. “I am so excited, there are so many new features. The gaming industry in the UAE, as you can see, is getting bigger because people truly enjoy them.”

The gamers were queuing for the Emax store. Vija Chandrapota, a category manager at Emax, said “The average monthly sales resulting from gaming total Dh900,000 to Dh1.1 million in Emax stores across the GCC.” That’s big money.

The National says that the global gaming market is expected to grow from US$52.5 billion (Dh192.82bn) in 2009 to $86.8bn in 2014, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. And although specific figures for the region are apparently not available, it is expected that the Middle East’s games industry will see similar levels of growth. If that holds true, we can expect to see many more local developers prosper.

Also last month, a new Islamic-based game rating system was announced. The Entertainment Software Rating Association (ESRA) will assess the minimum age for which each computer game is appropriate in much the same way that films are rated. The ratings will be displayed on a website to help parents decide how appropriate games are for their kids. The system has been devised by the Iran National Foundation of Computer Games, in concert with Dubai-based Index Holdings. It won’t be legally binding.

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